Nearly two years ago, the massive Hauser & Wirth gallery opened in the shadow of the High Line, taking over what was once the Roxy roller disco space on 18th Street. The inaugural exhibition here showcased the riotous and slightly unhinged works of three generations of Roths: patriarch Dieter, who died in 1998; son Bjorn, who oversaw the recreation of his dad's most famous installations and set pieces for the show; and grandsons Oddur and Einer. There was live chocolate-making, mega-messes called things like "Large Table Ruin", and, tucked away at the end of an unmarked hallway, the Roth New York Bar, which was part art installation, part free espresso bar. It was all pretty cool.
Here's the thing: even though the rest of the Roth show is long gone, the espresso bar is, amazingly, still up and running, pulling free shots of high-octane brew every Friday and Saturday to anyone who asks. Which, because the only signage is a tiny "caption" by the
doorway, is almost no one. And the gallery-goers who do wander in usually beat a hurried retreat, mumbling apologies, thinking they've stumbled across some sort of staff-only area.
So you will most likely be the only customers at the bar, giving you ample opportunity to scope out the somewhat-insanely adorned space. There is a shelf of premium booze, but don't ask, you can't drink it: it's part of the installation (though Hauser & Wirth staffers have
been known to stop in for a quick pop). And don't forget to give the crazy confetti machine a whirl... and, of course, to tip your barista.
The Roth New York Bar is obviously a solid impress-your-date spot, or just a peaceful place in which to warm up after an afternoon of wintertime gallery-going. You're welcome to come and chill back here every day Hauser & Wirth is open, though don't try to turn it into
your own private office, like the college professor who apparently scheduled a full afternoon of interviews at the big glass table, until the gallery got wise and kicked him out.
Hauser & Wirth has pledged to keep the bar open for as long as they occupy the building, which could be less than time they originally planned; there were reports last spring that developer Related was trying to buy them out in order to tear the place down and erect yet
another huge condo tower hard by the High Line. Is the neighborhood really so hot that even wealthy global galleries are susceptible to being gentrified?
The Roth New York Bar at Hauser & Wirth is located at 511 West 18th Street. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Free espressos are available on Fridays and Saturdays only.